What is simulation theory?

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By Vijay Singh Khatri


The simulation theory or simulation hypothesis propounds the nature of our very existence. The theory puts forward an assumption that the whole reality, which includes the Earth together with the Universe, will possibly be an artificial simulation, for example, a computer-driven simulation.

A few versions of the theory are based on advancements made in the field of simulated reality. It is a futuristic technology that proposed means to dispel the doubts of the inhabitants of Earth that simulation was nothing but real. The simulation theory is somewhat very similar to several other doubtful scenarios that spread all through the ideas of philosophy and its history.

The simulation hypothesis in its present disposition was made popular by reputed Oxford University philosopher Nick Bostrom. He suggested that the hypothesis is in consonance with all the experiences we come across through our perceptions. Besides, the hypothesis is believed to have remarkable epistemological consequences along the lines of philosophical skepticism.

Various versions of the simulation theory have been put into effect in various science fiction stories and movies, most notably, in The Matrix trilogy, as the central theme.

However, Bostrom recommended simulation theory is highly contentious. For instance, Sabine Hossenfelder, a theoretical physicist described it as pseudoscience. Also, George F. R. Ellis, a cosmologist, affirmed that the hypothesis cannot be put into practice from a technical perspective. He further added that Bostrom might have muddled up the distinct concepts of science fiction and science.

A more advanced, irrefutable proposal is awaited once this lengthy stack of simulations is over – one that has its foundation on this specific idea.

Bostrom’s Assumptions in the Simulation Theory

Nick Bostrom came up with a paper that was appropriately titled “Are you living in a Computer Simulation?” He made the following assumptions:

  • The human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage.
  • Any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history.
  • We are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.

To put it briefly, the paper asserts that it is not possible to know for certain if any of the 3 assumptions have a 100 percent likelihood of occurrence. A shadow of doubt always prevails.

But, in the words of Bostrom, the most likely outcome lies in the third option. In short, our future generations will have the computing prowess required to run human evolutionary simulations.

Several works done in the realms of science fiction and serious, well-informed predictions done by technology enthusiasts and futurologists anticipate the prevalence of enormous computing power in the future.

Let us, for a moment, assume that this forecast is true. In that case, we can expect future generations to run comprehensive simulations of their ancestors with the help of ultra-powerful computers. Plenty of such simulations can be run in a recurrent fashion because of the overwhelming power of these computers.

The simulation theory is of interest to those adept at carrying out futuristic speculations. The arguments put forward by the theory provide a stimulus to formulate a few questions related to methodologies and metaphysics. The theory also recommends true-to-life analogies to specific conventional, religious postulations that may appear fascinating or thought-provoking to many.

Simulation Theory is Becoming Increasingly Popular

The simulation theory has been talked over extensively before as well. The hypothesis with regard to reality has made inroads into pop culture, films, and TV shows. Renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have greeted and espoused the theory.

Neil deGrasse Tyson expressed his opinion that the accuracy of the simulation theory has a probability of more than 50 percent. A kindred sentiment is echoed by Musk in connection with the precise nature of reality.

Can the Universe be Simulated?

Even though it may sound surprising, the idea is not very absurd. There are simulation games such as Sims or Sid Meyer’s Civilization that you might have played some time. These games are known for allowing us to carry out human life simulations on an overarching scale or within the confines of a small neighborhood.

With the ever-increasing computing power, humans are very much capable of transforming history into simulation theory. In the 80s and 90s, many computer games evolved into three-dimensional, photorealistic representations of reality.

As per Moore’s law which states that the computing power will double every 18 months, we can expect the computing power to increase by roughly 60 times more in the next 5 decades or so with the all-pervasive AI having an improved understanding of the human psyche. The formidable Odyssey computer placed in Harvard can perform simulation for the next 14 billion years within a time span of a few months.

15 Indisputable Reasons We May be Living in a Computer Simulation

In the movie Matrix, the character Neo was conceived out of computer simulation. The odds that reality is created by extra progressive offspring of human beings are appreciable. How certain can we be about it? Almost!

Here are 15 indisputable pieces of evidence – some plausible, some semi-plausible, and some not-so-plausible – that indicate the simulation theory is not all play-play:

1. The Mandela Effect

Many people have so far claimed to have come across the news coverage about the death of Nelson Mandela on TV sometime in the 1980s. But, in reality, he died in 2013 at the age of 95. This came to be known as the Mandela Effect.

To an extent, this event demonstrates that there is someone who has full control over simulation and is up to altering the past. Otherwise, this signifies the presence of some parallel universe. Some individuals had supposedly done a cross-over from one universe into ours. This led to a time gap between Mandela dying in the 1980s and later in 2013.

One more example of this eccentric phenomenon takes in a few people who remembered Berenstain Bears, the well-known children’s book series getting wrongly spelled as Berenstein. Even others recall the movie “Shazaam.” In fact, the movie was never made in the 1990s. People even surmise that the movie starred Sinbad, the comedian, playing the role of a genie.

2. Lost aliens

By now we have spent fortunes sending satellites and spaceships to outer space. During each of these missions, have we received any evidence that extraterrestrials exist? Not really. Aliens are believed to be significantly more advanced technologically than what we think. They are not yet tracked anywhere.

This points to the fact that we inhabit a simulation belt that aliens are aware of, and they know the tactic of escaping from it. Or perhaps, the computer that governs us only has sufficient RAM for simulating only a single planet-based civilization at one time.

3. Electrons that remain indecisive

In physics, the double-slit experiment is very famous. The experiment was conducted by firing electrons through slits created on a copper plate. The electrons were made to hit a photosensitive screen. Once they collided with the screen the electrons produced a distinctive interference pattern that points to their wavelike behavior.

But, if the experiment is performed in a monitored environment, we will find the electrons behaving like particles and not waves. Plus, the experiment does not show any interference pattern. This change means that the simulation theory works to conserve its resources. It furnishes different things when the simulation computer comes to know that it is being observed.

4. DNAs containing computer viruses

In 2017, a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from the University of Washington demonstrated how they possibly will be able to plant malicious computer codes into the DNA’s physical strands. The experiment was aimed at proving how computers running in the process of gene sequencing are exposed to attacks.

However, by showing this, they could also have unknowingly brought to light the very fact that our perception of biological reality is truly consisting of computer codes right along.

5. Climate change – To what extent is it convenient?

Just by coincidence, human civilization is established at the point of transition of environmental anarchy. This suggests that our identity is that of a unique ancestor simulation. Perhaps, the simulation was created in anticipation that we would be able to give a demonstration to our creators of the method to get to the bottom of an energy crisis and solve it.

This nature of simulation theory partly covers the theory on aliens discussed above. So, on the off chance, we discovered an ingenious solution to ward off the climate crisis, the extraterrestrials might go back and start copying or stealing the results.

6. Video games that give off a real-life look and feel

Elon Musk advocates the simulation theory put forward by Nick Bostrom which hypothesizes the following. He says that human life might sustain an adequately long survival period. It is then that human life will assume and understand the efficiency of the developing technology that is capable of executing decisive reality simulations or help in decision making.

Numerous simulations will then be created. As a consequence, plenty of simulated realities will be engendered as well. Human life will be left with a single “base reality.” Therefore, statistically, we are most probably living in a simulated reality at this moment. That we dwell inside the Matrix is something which Elon Musk strongly believes.

He takes up the example of cool, innovative video games that are being played in current times. He explains how we used to play elementary, simple games decades back. But in this day and age, we are fascinated by 3D photorealistic games that can be played simultaneously with millions of people all around the world.

Taking into consideration any improvement in simulation, very soon, we will not be able to distinguish the games from real-life scenarios. So compelling is the power of simulation, there will hardly be any change in the scenario even if the advancement in simulation tactics slows down by 1,000 times from its current status. Thus, it is absolutely clear we are going to experience games that cannot be differentiated from reality.

7. Bizarre items of news

Some people are of the opinion that we live in a malfunctioning simulation computer. They have corroborated their opinions with a few recent improbabilities such as Donald Trump’s loss, Brexit, Oscar’s envelope muddle-up, and the comeback of the Super Bowl by 25 points in 2017. They believe that the simulation hypothesis is controlled by individuals with malicious intent.

8. Quarks related to computer codes

What are quarks? They represent a certain number of subatomic particles (hadrons) responsible for carrying a fraction of an electric charge. These fractional electric charges are propounded as the building blocks to create hadrons. To date, there has been no direct observation of quarks. However, the theoretical proof of their existence is set forth experimentally.

James Gates, a theoretical physicist, professes he has been able to recognize what apparently is a genuine computer code implanted in string theory equations. The theory puts forward the description of the subatomic particles existent in the Universe.

According to him, he has identified several “error-correcting codes” that help in the functioning of web browsers. And astonishingly, he found the same codes while he was gaining knowledge about electrons, quarks, and supersymmetry.

9. A universe with rules – Why?

The working of our Universe is governed by stringent laws of physics. This has been asserted by Max Tegmark, a renowned MIT cosmologist. He adds our lives are confined in an intricate video game. He states “If I were a character in a computer game, I would also discover eventually that the rules seemed completely rigid and mathematical.”

We all know that the fastest possible traveling speed of any particle is equal to the speed of light. It is also the maximum speed at which information can be transmitted within the confines of the simulation network.

10. It is possible we are part of a simulation network

According to Zohreh Davoudi, a nuclear physicist, it may be far easier to show beyond doubt that we exist in a simulation theory-driven world in contrast to that we do not. Cosmic rays are by far the most energized particles.

He affirms that in a simulated environment, the cosmic rays will assume the appearance of pixel chunks. On the other hand, cosmic rays will look like unceasing beams of radiance in a base reality world.

11. The “Goldilocks Zone”

In the words of astrobiologists, the existence of the Earth is enfolded in a “Goldilocks Zone.” It is extremely proximate to a star, so much so that heat can be trapped by greenhouse gases to conserve water. At the same time, the Goldilocks Zone is so remote from the star that it does not transform into a Venusian hothouse.

One solid circumstantial evidence of the simulation hypothesis is the possibility of our existence in a certain orbital soft spot. Had it not been for our simulation designers wanting us to succeed, it would not have made sense that they would situate us in such a great, comfy environment.

12. Not as nonsensical as the concept of “Ghosts”

We encounter paranormal events because of simulation glitches. They are not apparitions or alien rendezvous. This particular theory is highly examined on a few Reddit forums such as “We Live in a Simulation” or “Glitch in the Matrix.”

In these forums, Reddit users go over big philosophical ideas with a fine-tooth comb. They channelize the inferences into details of the occult or odd. For instance, a shop is found to exist in a city. Then one day, the shop is no longer visible.

Such a scenario involves explanations that take in a pop-up, defined as a potential slip juxtaposed by parallel timelines. Even glitch stories are frequently set inside elevators. The gradual jump, up or down, between floors, gives the impression of a boosted dimensional slip.

13. We know the building blocks of our Matrix by now

In agreement with simulation believers, our universe comprises pixel-sized building blocks. Furthermore, we may hitherto have found them. In this context, we bring the Planck length to the fore.

It is identified as the point where our concepts of spacetime and gravity are no longer applicable. In case, a simulation of our world is computed, the Planck length will be found to have equivalence with one pixel or a bit of information.

14. We are improving our simulation mechanisms

In 2014, a comprehensive simulation of our Universe was recreated by the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics. The simulation was conjured up by connecting 8,000 computers in tandem. Over a period of three months, the team worked to bring a cube of our universe into being having a width of 350 million light-years. The recreation is estimated to have undergone virtual evolution for 13 billion years.

More than 125 million copies of simulation video games have been sold worldwide during the first decade after the launch of the franchise. This shows our incredible bent to play with simulated realities. So, as and when a particular future progeny of humanity finds itself endowed with an ability to fabricate more practical simulations, it would hardly be a surprise that it chose to put it to perfect use.

15. The controversy of whether Yanny or Laurel

In 2015, there was an incident that upturned the whole world. All of us took a look at the same photo. While many of us caught the sight of a blue dress, others viewed it as a golden dress.

Also, worth mentioning is the fiasco involving the names Yanny and Laurel that took place in 2018. There is a straightforward explanation of why different people hear Yanny or Laurel using the same expression.

At medium or high-frequency pitch “Yanny” will be pronounced and people will hear it accordingly. At the low-frequency pitch, people will dominantly experience hearing “Laurel”.

So, these examples are all about color saturation, pitch, and volume. These contentions clearly signify each of us exists in our own unique world. In fact, the perception of reality is thus a part of a simulation generated by the brain by making use of past individual experiences. This also helps in processing the data fragments that we receive from the brain.


That sums up our discussion on the immensely popular Simulation Theory. So, how well could you grasp the simulation theory? How well do you think are the odds of its plausibility? Let us know in the comment section below.

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